Day-1 of the lesson requires the use of a computer lab so students can use the Online Wetlands Ecosystem to create food chains. I did not have access to a computer lab, so I color printed seven copies of this page (one copy for each team of four students) and laminated them. It worked great, plus I can use them again next year!
I chose this inquiry because it fit so well into my curriculum. We finished comparing and contrasting the five kingdoms and I used this activity to show how and why they rely on each other. The students were able to see how monerans and protists play a large role in the food web. Since these are "new" organisms to many my students-many of them seeing monerans and protists for the first time under the microscope, it was helpful to identify their role in our world. I loved these activities! Since I did not have access to the computer lab for all of my biology classes, I printed off the Online Wetland Ecosystem and made copies for the groups. This was really helpful because they were able to view it once in groups of two when making their food chains and then in groups of six when putting all the food chains together to make their food webs. I used an LCD projector to show the Brain POP movie, since there is only one computer in my class. I was able to take one of my three biology classes to the computer lab to do Funbrain.com The students were amazed how one small ecosystem had such a large food web! We discussed how big the food web would be if we were to go outside and make food chains out of everything we could see. I have forty five minute classes and to do the food chains and food webs took about three days. The students also liked the making the 3D model of the food pyramid. The food packages that were brought in reinforced how much of our diet is producer-based, while a little of our diet is consumer-based. The terminology "Energy Flows" needs to be introduced on the first day when using the energy arrows for making their food chains. The students needs to understand what the arrows represent right away instead of waiting until later in the week. The food webs turned out great and the students really did well working in groups. I used these activities as an extension to my five kingdoms unit. We compared and contrasted characteristics of the five kingdoms during this unit. I discussed how this unit relates to the theme from the Lion King-Circle of Life!
I chose this activity because it covers a large portion of the largest content standard for Life Sciences; Ohio Plants and Animals. We needed to find a way to cover the different kinds of animals in Ohio as well as their habitats and eating habits. This was a great way to cover all three. Overall, the activity fit well, but there were lots of adjustments that needed to made for second graders. The main adjusts were mainly just changing from individual type work to whole group work. The students were certainly capable of understanding the concepts being taught, but they needed a lot more direct instruction and support than older students might need. Once we had covered many of the concepts, they were using the language in the inquiry. They were able to use, correctly, terms like phytoplankton and zooplankton as well as food chains and other more complex concepts. They really enjoyed Wolf Island and I was surprised at how quickly they grasped what was happening in the story. After we completed that story, we read Who Eats What? and the students really made connection between the two books. I was able to incorporate a great deal of technology into this inquiry by using our Smartboard as a means of having the students draw their food chains and food webs directly on the Wetlands habitat on the Smartboard. We also used a program called Kidspiration to create webs listing different animals that you might find in a wetland habitat.
Justin Bradbury, Second Grade Teacher
Nicole Bowling and I collaborated to complete this inquiry. Overall, it went very well and generated many questions and lots of discussion from students...At the end of the unit, our students completed the Proficiency Assessment. The results were varied. Students felt overwhelmed with the assessment format.
Julie Rogers and Nicole Bowling
Thanks for your helpful feedback. I agree, the paper version of the Proficiency Assessment (much like some of the state's Proficiency/Achievement assessment) is a lot to take in. Here are three suggestions to accommodate for the future:
Days 1 and 2 were spent researching and making posters- this went well,
Day 3- day one of inquiry lesson format plans- This went well. The high
Day 4- (Day 2 lesson) As written and added the Bill Nye Wetland video,
Day 5- (day 3) This went very well, and I used this wit other classes aw well-
Day 6 (day 4 and 5 together) Combined these two lessons into one (we
Day 7 (day 6) This went well, and really made sense to thekids. They were
Day 8 -Field Trip- Awesome experience. Knee deep in wetland soil and
Day 9 (day 7 plans) All did well on test, had good discussion, most were
All in all, a great unit. I will definitely make this a yearly unit.
Jill Stegeman, Teacher Grades 9-12
I chose this inquiry because my students have been studying food chains and food webs in their regular science texts. The students did not seem to be grasping the concepts and I thought this would be a good way of supplementing my regular curriculum while fulfilling the requirements of my class.
I really enjoyed teaching this inquiry because it made concepts which are normally difficult for third graders to truly get a handle on seem very easy. I was pleased with the clarity the lesson gave when showing the differences between food webs and food chains.
The proficiency assessment seemed a little above my third graders' capacities. I suggest allowing lower level students to discuss answers in groups for these questions. I found this simple modification, along with teacher monitoring, to be sufficient in dealing with this minor hurdle.
I made use of quite a few of the resources provided for this unit. I checked out nearly all the resource books listed from the local library. I put these on our "work table" and allowed each student to choose a book to take home to read/study. Later in the week, students read these books aloud in class for an oral reading grade. They used information from these books to help them put together their food webs. I suggest reading a maximum of two of these books per day so students don't get "information overload." Additionally, my students and I connected this unit to the recycling inquiry (taught immediately previous to this one). We used our colony of pet Madagascar hissing cockroaches as an example of a part of the energy pyramid which feeds on producers. Through informal observations during the school year, students decided the roaches must be primary consumers. They then reasoned that they could recycle/reduce certain plant wastes by feeding leftover fruit and vegetable rinds to the roaches. Not only was I really impressed with their application of this new found knowledge, but now my students are bringing in food for the roaches đ relieving me from that duty.
I started this unit with my kindergarten students with a brainstorming session of what you might find around or in a pond. Their list was lengthy! Afterwards, we read the book, Jump Frog, Jump. This is the perfect book for introducing food chains. We talked about how a small animal gets eaten by a slightly larger animal who gets eaten by an even larger animal. On a following day, we reread Jump Frog Jump and wrote the food chain on large chart paper. After that I gave pairs of students a copy of the wetland picture from the SFO website. We talked about what animals and plants we saw. Then I gave them time to look at it to create food chains. I added their ideas to the chart paper. I was surprised at what they came up with. The next day I followed it up by giving each student a black and white copy of the wetland picture and asked them to cut out plants and animals to create their own individual food chains. It became very clear on this independent activity who did and who didn't understand the concept of a food chain. I didn't continue with webs due to time and lack of understanding on the part of my students. I adapted/added to this inquiry the study of the lifecycle of a frog. We had several stages of the frog lifecycle in the classroom at the same time. We were able to watch the amazing transformation take place. We read many nonfiction books about frogs, made giant frogs and sequenced pictures of the frog lifecycle. This type of hands on observation is crucial in kindergarten and it was a natural addition to the wetlands study.
I chose this inquiry because I wanted my students to learn more about wetlands. After participating in the Green Teachers Institute a few summers ago, I realized how important it was for them to understand more about wetlands -- how they function as an ecosystem and the wonders of their beauty. This inquiry was an excellent way of preparing the class for a fieldtrip to the wetlands at Miami Whitewater. I wanted them to get a deeper understanding of the flow of energy through food chains and the interdependence of organisms that live in the wetlands. I thought all the activities were great. The students especially liked working in teams to create the food web posters from their lists of food chains. The online wetland ecosystem really came in handy and I used it numerous times on the computer for students to refer to for the activities. Creating the Pyramid of Energy was helpful in reinforcing the concepts that energy flows and matter cycles. Bringing in the food items and discussing the connection between what we eat and how humans fit into the pyramid gave them another chance to work as a team. I liked seeing my students working together. This inquiry was fantastic and I can't think of anything that I would change. I took the class to Miami Whitewater Forest to investigate the wetlands and take part in the activities the naturalists had planned. They provided a video which I used for introducing wetlands. It was the Bill Nye video titled, "Wetlands". This inquiry activity gave me more knowledge about this method of teaching and learning. It was excellent!
I chose this activity to do with my students because we were studying about Wetlands in our reading series. I thought that this would be a good tie in. I also chose this activity because there was use of the computer with it. I like to try to tie in as much as I can with technology and this lesson allowed me to do this. I brought up the picture of the wetland and had the students in groups of three. I also printed out the picture for them to use. This way, all the students were constantly looking at the same thing and working the whole time and not letting a few people do the work. I also had each of them come up with two food chains. Then as a group, add them to their list. I found that it was easier coming up with a three organism chains due to size of space available to write on. In the directions I might add how many organisms you expect them to write down. When the students had to draw the web, I allowed them to use the computer for images if they weren't comfortable drawing the pictures. To my surprise, they all wanted to draw. I think that they learned a lot from this activity. Why its important to save the environment. They also realize the interdependence of organisms. An extension that I would like to do is to go to a wetland and take pictures of various organisms and have them make the web from the pictures that we took.
I chose this inquiry
because it fit well into my 8th grade curriculum. I like how each activity
was different and how they all flowed throughout the unit. The only
thing that I would change is that the unit took longer than I figured
and I didn't allow enough time in my plans. However, I do have rather
short class periods. I did add one lesson at the end. I showed the video
Food Chains and then had each student write a 1 paragraph answer
to the following question: "Knowing that deer have been in Ohio for
hundreds of years why do we now have to control the population of deer
when we didn't have to 1 hundred years ago?" Good unit, kids had fun.
I chose this inquiry mainly because I really enjoyed the lesson we did using the posters this summer at the GREEN Teachers Institute. I really liked the online picture of╩the wetland. It was wonderful to have the beautiful color picture available to all of╩my students. They were easily able to find food chains with the producers and consumers listed so clearly. It was hard for me to╩change the lessons as I was doing them, but I feel that there are many things I would do differently with my fourth grade students the╩next time I taught this lesson. First, the time allotments for each day were unrealistic for my class. Almost every lesson took at least an hour, some longer. The suggestions online call for groups of different numbers for different days--I would have grouped them in fours to begin with for each activity and kept this constant throughout.╩╩This way there would have been no question about who╩needed to be with whom each day...╩I see now that the lesson plan was╩probably designed to work that way. Also, I would not have given each student their own copy of the Pyramid of Energy to complete. Within their groups, they could complete one, and then I could distribute the copy of the completed overhead to each student... I would make a larger model of the Pyramid to discuss the different levels, instead of the students each making their own. The handout of the 10% Rule was a little over my students heads. The next time, I will read the story on the information pages out loud, and make it a point to refer to that often... I showed my students the examples of the different colors on the pyramid using the Complete Pyramid on the Ready to Print page (Teacher Pages). Another suggestion came from a fellow teacher of mine. She suggested using a shower curtain with a large energy pyramid drawn on it to have students place their producers, consumers and arrows drawn or copied. I think that my students would have loved that. The active involvement would excite them. I used the book Pass the Energy, Please! by Barbara Shaw McKinney to read after the lesson. My students enjoyed pointing out which organisms were producers, consumers, and decomposers. They also enjoyed watching the transfer of energy in the colorful pictures.
After receiving your feedback, I have added a notation to the "What Is the Role of Energy and Matter in an Ecosystem?" lesson that states, "Although this portion of the lesson is designed for students to complete individually, you could also have pairs or teams of students complete one pyramid each." I will add Pass the Energy, Please! to the Related Resources section of this unit.
I chose this inquiry because its objectives tied in to our district's third grade curriculum. One of the third grade outcomes is for students to learn about the life cycles of plants and animals, as well as the basic needs of all living things. This involves the study of food chains and food webs and learning about not only how energy is passed along, but also what happens to an ecosystem if an organism in a food web/chain is removed by natural or human means. I used this inquiry as a review of these objectives. Earlier in the year we completed activities and read texts on food webs/chains. One thing I would do differently next time I do this inquiry is provide my students background information on wetlands. My students knew how to make food chains, but when they had to make the hypotheses of food chains from the wetlands poster, they did not know enough about the organisms to predict what they would eat. Due to the fact we don't have enough computer access in the classroom for a whole class to look at a web page, I printed out the website photo of the wetland for my students to use. I completed this entire inquiry with a few modifications. The first being I did not discuss the 10% rule in depth with my class. My students do not understand percentages yet, and the entire concept is a bit beyond them. Instead, we discussed how there is a greater abundance of producers in the world than primary consumers, which there are a greater number of than secondary consumers. We also hypothesized why this might be. Also I did not use that terminology. As a substitute, I used herbivores and carnivores, since they were the terms we had used earlier in the year. In Day 3, we did not make the 3D pyramid. Rather we located the producers, herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores in the food chains. What I really enjoyed about this inquiry is seeing the confidence in my students of their own knowledge. They truly enjoyed creating the food webs and working on the Pyramid of Energy because they could see everything coming together. They understood the terminology and the concepts, and were excited to show off their work.
I chose this activity because it was a creative student involved activity teaching energy flow through food chains and food webs, the energy pyramid, and the role of humans in the energy pyramid. I like using student ideas for the activity. Students made food chains, then constructed food webs from these chains. The students were concerned with the neatness of their food web. They attempted to keep all information neat and separated (they didn't want to cross the energy flow arrows). But, they soon realized that a food web is a complex system and impossible to portray in an organized manner. Using color codes helped students to understand concepts on the energy pyramid. We also enjoyed putting ourselves on the energy pyramid and discovering which levels were more appropriate for humans. I would not change anything about this inquiry. It is one I definitely plan to use every year. The students grasped these concepts very easily and enjoyed the lesson!
I chose this inquiry because the energy pyramid is in our sixth grade curriculum. The pacing and length of the unit was terrific. The food chains and food web info. was a "review" concept for students, but the wetlands ecosystem poster made it fresh and enjoyable. The teamwork through the process was fabulous, and the pride in their posters was rewarding. I did revise a little to kick off the unit. I let each student pick an organism and gather information on what it eats and its enemies. This gave the groups some background knowledge and made them feel more "accurate" in their food chain hypotheses... The students highly enjoyed when other groups called out "Who looked up the wood duck?"...This was a nice homework opportunity to use life skills for a purpose. Also, I really valued the reflection side of the Thinksheet. To me, it gave insight on the knowledge gained, and made sure there were not any misconceptions learned...The students had a lot to share about what they learned! I was thrilled!
Now that the proficiency tests are over I just want to say, "THANKS!" There were 3 or 4 questions having to do with energy and food webs :) I think my students did much better this year because of the Wetlands Are Wonderlands! inquiry lesson.
The reason I chose this inquiry was that my students needed a review of the what "food chain" really meant. I really liked the hands-on approach where the students could participate in coloring, cutting, and pasting the information into the food chain. At the very end of the lesson I had the students construct a whole class food web. I felt this was really beneficial. On the individual food webs the students didn't make the connection between the consumer and producer (where the consumer could consume more than one thing). I used the Online Wetland Ecosystem with the computers to introduce the subject and ended up having the students print out the page to look at, because on the computers you couldn't see the picture and key at the same time. I also had them use brainpop.com which was a lot better for the fourth graders. I really liked the 3D pyramid model for the students, but didn't quite understand what they were to learn from this? (They were confused also.) Everything started to click together for them when they completed the Energy Flows and Matter Cycle page. But again, what really helped was constructing a large class food web at the very end.
A really neat activity. It might be helpful to identify consumers as herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores.
Dr. Laura Ditmer
I chose this assignment because it went so well with the reading unit we were on, which was "The Balance of Nature." In this reading unit we already had Wolf Island and another story called, Nature's Great Balancing Act in Our Own Backyard. The second selection had food chains as one of its subheadings and a diagram of a food chain in it. I also picked this inquiry because it is life sciences and a part of our curriculum that the students still needed to work with. I liked that the inquiry was convenient to do in the classroom and allowed for partner and group work. I did a couple of things differently from the lesson plans. One is that I printed off of the Science for Ohio Online Wetland Ecosystem... Each student had a copy to share with his/her partner while making food chains. Secondly, for the fifth lesson, I drew a big triangle (Pyramid of Energy) on the board and had the students who brought food containers come to the board and tape their container in the appropriate spot. They shared after meeting in a small group to decide where the containers should go. While in their small group they made a big triangle on a regular sheet of notebook paper and wrote in where their group thought the items would go. On the back of the triangle paper I had them reflect on their team and how they worked together. Finally, I had the students volunteer ideas on how to complete the "Make Some Sense of It" worksheet. I wrote their ideas on the board and helped out some as needed as a review for the assessment... I really liked this inquiry and found it helpful for the kids. We even talked about the 10% rule. I related it to fractions and had a fraction bar and showed what 10% of the total bar (energy) would be.
I really liked Brainpop.com and The National Wildlife Federation website. They both had lots of information presented in creative ways and links to other information. I am sure that I will spend more time at both of those sites and introduce them to the rest of my family.
I chose this inquiry because it fulfilled my proficiency objectives for food webs, chains, and energy flow. I also completed some of this inquiry during the GREEN Teachers Institute so I felt more confident with this one. I feel that this inquiry very successfully teaches one of the hardest concepts for children to understand. It is very hands-on and actively engages the children. The part of the inquiry where the children bring in the food wrappers and then place them on the pyramid was fun and interesting. The children were floored that we were secondary consumers. They just knew that we were tertiary. I can't think of anything that I would change. I personally felt that my class this year was in need of more information about decomposers, and they had a rough time distinguishing between living and non-living matter. I used this as a separate unit of study before giving the Off-Grade Proficiency Test to my students.
five lessons nicely build upon each other starting with food chains
and ending with the Pyramid of Energy.
When I gave the (Wetlands) Proficiency Assessment, I noticed a question on observation vs. inference. This doesn't seem to be covered in the inquiry?
Thank you for sharing this feedback. I have updated the lesson and background pages to better emphasize observation and inference.
I finished lesson two of the Wetlands Inquiry with all five of my classes. I introduced the activities with a day of background information and the EPA crossword puzzle yesterday. Today students constructed food chains and began to create food webs. I've found that with both the Water Cycle and Wetlands inquiries the teacher background pages are very valuable and students need a similar informational page for both the water cycle processes and an introduction of the definition of wetlands, types of wetlands, and importance of wetland regions. I tried to cut and paste from the teacher copy to create such a page for my students, but the reading level was difficult for many of them.
I chose this unit because it covered wetlands, biodiversity, ecosystems, food chains, food webs, observation, and inference. I also thought this unit was easy to implement with everything I needed at my fingertips. Also, the class I took last summer through Miami U. covered this topic so I had a bit of familiarity with it. I liked this unit because it covered a lot of topics, integrating them in an easy-to-digest manner. The unit was easy to teach and my students enjoyed it. The students especially liked making the energy pyramid which they remembered pretty well for the test. I printed the energy pyramid answer guide that helped them in this activity. The 3-D pyramid that they made was great in trying to get across the 10 percent rule. I also drew fractional boxes at each level to help them understand this. Only a few brought products from home to put on the class energy pyramid but I had cardboard food pictures from a nutrition unit that I gave to each group. They decided where each one belonged on the pyramid and we taped them to it. They also loved making the food chains and food webs. I had to walk around a lot while they were making the food chains to make sure they were starting with a producer. Also, I had to make sure they didn't have producers eating other producers. Once they got the hang of it, they did well on these. I printed the Online Wetlands Ecosystem on my color printer and gave one to each group. This seemed more efficient than trying to get the whole class on two computers and then getting them to remember what plants and animals are in a Wetland. My students also loved making the food webs and did well. I put an example on the board prior to this activity so they got the hang of it. The team evaluations are a great idea, allowing my students to evaluate their team behavior and how it could improve. The test was difficult for my students. While class discussion and the aforementioned projects convinced me they understood the concepts, their test answers were fairly poor on the multiple choice questions. They did well remembering the pyramid of energy portion of the test. I think the test was fair and my students just need to work on analyzing questions better. The question regarding the woodducks (#6-7) was the only question I would change. I would not confuse the concepts of observation and inference in the same question. Very few of my students got this and, at first, I didn't get it either. I also got very few good explanations as to why they chose certain answers but, again, I think this is something I need to work with them on. My students also had a hard time explaining what they learned about wetlands and energy on the Thinksheets. Again, this is something we need to work on. I think it is a great idea. One of my students questioned the placement of the red-winged blackbird on the pyramid of energy as a primary consumer. He believed strongly that they also eat insects and should be a secondary consumer. I looked this up in my bird book and he is right, if I'm understanding the concept correctly. They eat seeds and insects. I used various resources for this unit and also required that my students summarize a related book or website as a long term project. I used the Online Wetland Ecosystem, printing the Wetland poster for the students to use for the food chains. We sang the dragonfly song which was informative. Also, I read them the book, Who Eats What? by Patricia Lauber and Holly Keller, which introduced the concepts of food chains and food webs. I also read them a book from the library called, Wetlands by Darlene Stille. It was simply written and easy to understand. I also got some more books about wetlands that the students used in their groups. I had each group research a topic such as types of wetlands, wetland plants, wetland animals, etc. which they shared with the rest of the class. I really feel this unit is informative and easy to use and recommend it. It took me much longer than six days but it is worth it.
As far as the red-winged blackbird, there are two ways to look at it. Its primary food year-round is seeds which makes it a primary consumer. On the otherhand, it consumes insects during the nesting season, which makes it a secondary consumer during this time period. It all depends on the time of year. I've listed it as a primary consumer since plants are the red-winged blackbirds staple food year-round, but you could argue for placement in either category. Please let your student know that I'm impressed with his understanding of consumer levels and his desire to question--most students would accept this information without a second thought.